Some Dumb Thoughts on Super Bowl LVI

The Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals on receiver Cooper Kupp’s late touchdown catch from Matthew Stafford. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

The longest season in NFL history finally came to an end last night, with the Los Angeles Rams winning their 2nd Lombardi Trophy.

You didn’t click this to read about gameplans & blocking schemes though, and I sure as hell didn’t write this for that. The Super Bowl is always a weird, forced Frankenstein of American Pop culture, and as someone who struggles to take any of this ridiculousness seriously – I’ve got some things to say.

Pre-Game

I might just be too used to English understatement at this point, but my god there was a lot going on pre-game.

The commercials were already coming in hot – somehow Ye making an appearance in a McDonald’s Super Bowl commercial was a B-plot in his night (please stop making me take Kim Kardashian’s side on things).

We had the Walter Payton Man of the Year award ‘ceremony’. Congratulations to Andrew Whitworth. Russell Wilson has never looked more like Mark Zuckerberg.

Having honorary captains from local schools was a nice touch.

Jhene Aiko is a strange choice for “America the Beautiful”. As an advocate against country music awareness I’m proud I had no idea who Mickey Guyton was. Both of them did fine.

I did not expect to see Billie Jean King, nice to see her still doing good things. We’ll ignore that she nearly threw the coin out of Sofi Stadium.

This is already more than enough fanfare before we’ve even had kickoff. And then a 6’3” bottle of Pinot Noir – I mean the Rock – comes out and starts screaming at us? Why? Who wanted this? Who is this for?

I am thankful we got the mandatory ‘Cris Collinsworth played in the last Super Bowl the Bengals appeared in’ mention out of the way early. I was honestly expecting a whole 1st quarter graphics package.

1st Quarter

Believe it or not, there was eventually a football game.

I discovered my new favorite thing to look for watching football this season – kick returners being pressed when they don’t get to return the opening kickoff. I thought Brandon Powell was just going to go home when the game started with a touchback.

Cam Akers wearing the shortest pants I’ve ever seen a professional football player wear turned out to be foreshadowing for how many of his runs would end up short of a 1st down.

The Bengals went for a 4th and 1 on their opening drive. One of those ‘if it goes right you’re a genius, if it goes wrong you’re an idiot’ calls. Zak Taylor coaches the Bengals. How do you think it went?

Commercials:

  • Mary J. Blige performing in the halftime show and promoting cancer screening. What a queen.
  • Squarespace. You had Andre 3000. You had Zendaya. How is that the best you could do?
  • If you scanned that QR code you’re part of the problem

2nd Quarter

That PAT screw up felt like a fever dream. It looked like a planned trick play at first, but it’s a PAT so it couldn’t be. Everyone reacted to it like they weren’t sure it was happening. Just bizarre.

It was really looking like this was going to be the final chapter in Odell Beckham Jr.’s epic tale of revenge over the state of Ohio. When he came up with a non-contact injury you just knew his night was over though. I have no real connection to him whatsoever, yet there was something so fun about watching him play well in the Super Bowl. I hope the injury isn’t as bad as it looked.

I literally laughed out loud when Matthew Stafford pointed downfield like he was doing something and proceeded to throw a pick. Peak Detroit Rams.

Commercials:

  • When in doubt about what a Super Bowl commercial is selling, assume it’s a car
  • Really cool to see Barbie of all brands flipping the bird to gender norms
  • Dolly Parton x Miley Cyrus x T-Mobile was the most eye-roll inducing commercial of the night…
  • …until they were immediately followed by the TikTok soap commercial that made me want to vomit
  • I’m not down with the funny money, but that Larry David commercial was hilarious

The G-Funk Halftime Show

Yes this is going to be the longest part of this article. This made my month.

With a Super Bowl match-up that was so clearly not the 2 best teams in the league, for the first time ever I was actually looking forward to the Halftime Show more than the game.

And it was by far the best part of the night.

I was a little worried when I first saw the stage, especially with the sun still out. It became very clear very early I’d just gotten too used to the wildly expensive halftime shows of the last decade, with giant tigers and pyrotechnics.

The G-funk super bowl was about the music. America’s favorite stoned Uncle, aka Snoop Dogg was great opening things up. You gotta have at least a couple Dr. Dre verses with him as the headliner, and Dre’s “California Love” verse is maybe his most iconic.

I had no idea 50 Cent was going to show up, or that he’d started transforming into Busta Rhymes, but that entrance was dope. Any more from him would’ve been too much, it was the perfect shot in the arm.

It’s been 20 years and I still need someone to explain to me what a ‘dancery’ is, but if anyone stole the show it was Mary J. Blige. “Family Affair” was obviously going to be part of the show, but I’m so glad “No More Drama” – one of the most underrated songs of the 2000’s – was included too.

Giving Mary more time came at the expense of Kendrick Lamar it seems. I did not expect the No-Fun-League to approve “M.A.A.D. City” and “Alright”, especially with the latter being the BLM protest anthem.

Whether you were worried about Eminem being involved in this show or excited about him more than anyone else was a great ‘two Americas’ conversation leading up to this week. Mom’s spaghetti stayed in his lane though, did “Lose Yourself” in his old flow instead of the staccato conniption he’s been doing for the last 10 years, and then kept to the background. I’m sure that was a huge moment for all the Kyles out there though.

I was hoping to get a little more Anderson .Paak, but he was having so much fun on the drums. I can’t complain if he’s that hyped just to be there.

Right when I started questioning why Dre was pretending to adjust the fake sound panel, he stepped away and made a piano look like a children’s toy – I always forget how huge he is.

Of course “Still Dre” had to be the closer. A bit anti-climatic, but it was so cool seeing them all together hyping Dre up at the end.

Oh yeah some other stuff happened too, I guess:

  • The Sanders family Oykos commercial was great
  • I’d rather watch that QR code bounce around for 5 mintues straight than listen to Tony Dungy & Drew Brees’ ‘analysis’
  • The de-aged Lebron was absolutely terrifying

3rd Quarter

Oh yeah the football game.

Zak Taylor looked more surprised than anyone after that Tee Higgins touchdown, and that says so much about the Bengals as a team. And yes, Jalen Ramsey got assaulted, but he got away with a PI no call in the endzone in the 1st quarter. It evens out.

The guy in the black who got in between Aaron Donald and the Bengals O-line during that sideline scuffle is either a superhero or suicidal.

After the Bengals scored 10 straight, we got some really ugly football. Both offensive lines just started to crumble. Joe Burrow ended up being sacked more than any other quarterback in Super Bowl history and Stafford wasn’t far behind. This game was close, but let’s be honest – neither team played very well.

4th Quarter

Things got a little less sloppy in the 4th.

I’m not that big on Matt Stafford, but late game heroics are how he’s stayed in the league so long despite being so mediocre. It felt like as long as the Rams were in striking distance they were going to come away with the title.

The Bengals running game finally got a little momentum going. This was unfortunately only after Joe Burrow came up limping. He was clearly not himself on that last drive.

Cooper Kupp getting the reverse on 4th and 1 felt like the only great play call in a game with bad coaching from both sides. He (and Stafford, I guess) dominated in that chaotic final touchdown drive. Well deserved MVP.

Still, it was so fitting that Aaron Donald got to Burrow on the final play of the game to seal it. Even with all the flashiness on the other side of the ball, he and this Rams defense have been the heart of the team in this recent stretch of success. Fingers crossed he doesn’t retire.

Last Thoughts:

  • A Pete Davidson appearance…
  • I completely forgot Sean McVay sounds like every American Lacrosse player I’ve ever met
  • I picked the Rams to win going in, but ended up cheering for the Bengals by the end of the game. Such a likable team. They absolutely did not belong here, but hopefully they can make it back in a year or two as a more legit contender.

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